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Monday, May 27, 2013

1904 Hamilton 927 Pocket Watch

A hundred years ago Hamilton had 22 different watch styles in it's lineup starting with 0-size ladies pocket watches and ranging upwards to 18 size men's models.   All of Hamilton's watches were high quality but some were extremely high quality with accuracies within a few seconds per month.

To me, there's something special about an 18 size pocket watch - and especially so when it's a hunter style model.  Hunter style watches have a clamb shell case with a metal cover over the glass crystal.  In a Hunter case, the stem and crown are located at the 3 so the movement is rotated 90 degrees versus the traditional open-faced case.  This allows you to open the case with the cover toward the left (by the 9) and be able to clearly read the dial.  With the pendant at the 3, they are sometimes called "side winders".

A good example of an 18S hunter-style Hamilton pocket watch is the 927.

There were several 18 size pocket watch movements.  The 927 was a very basic movement with 17 jewels and entry-level features.  It's not a railroad approved model because it was only adjusted for temperature and not for isochonism or 5 varied positions.  It also has a single roller balance and not a double roller - like the railroad models would have.  In an open style case, the movement was a 926.

Isochronism is the ability of the balance to maintain consistent accuracy as the mainspring unwinds.  In other words, it's accuracy 1 hour after a full wind is the same as after 10 hours later, etc.

The 5 positions that a watch would be adjusted to were (1) dial facing up, (2) dial facing down, (3) vertically with the12 up, (4) 9 up and (5) 3 up - the latter two simulating the watch on it's side in your pocket.

Although the 927 wasn't the highest-end watch Hamilton made - it was still a very fine pocket watch for the time.

I recently restored a very cool 927 and it came with an interesting story.  Well, interesting to me anyway.

I found the movement in an open faced silveroid case - nothing too special really although the dial had the seconds at 3 - which was very unusual.

I also found a non-working 7 jewel Elgin pocket watch in an 18S hunter case.

Way back when, Hamilton's watches were made to standard sizes and could drop into any generic case that jewelers had on hand (or you could buy them cased from Hamilton as well).

Anyway - I popped out the Elgin movement and dropped the Hamilton 927 into the hunter case and voila - a perfect match!

The front of the heavy gold filled case is the classic engine turned design with a shield in the center, suitable for engraving someone's initials.

Here you can see the interesting "seconds at 3" dial.  I have no idea if this is an original dial and you can see that it has the orientation for an open style case - but the gold highlights on the dial look silly in a silveroid case.  It looks much better in a yellow case - and now I can hang this watch under a glass dome and display it as desk clock.

Here you can see the balance wheel happily swinging away - 5 beats back and forth each second.   That's over 157 million beats per year!

And here's the best part of all!  Check out this excellent engraving of a locomotive on the case back!  This case is a thing of beauty and deserves to be displayed.


  1. That does look very nice in the Gold case! Well done.

  2. I don't think that is the original dial. An open-faced pocket watch has the stem at 12 and sub-seconds at 6. A hunter has the stem at 3 and the sub-seconds at 6. Hunter movements are frequently moved to open-faced cases, either because of style preference, or the case wore out, or selling a solid gold original case. That usually results in an open faced watch with the the stem at 3 with this type of dial, which is a sure sign of the conversion. Sometimes people also swap in a conversion dial that puts the stem at 12 ... but you can still tell that it is a hunter movement in an open case because the sub-seconds is at 3 rather than 6.

  3. Yup - no doubt that it's not THE original dial... as I said, I took it out of an open faced silverode case. What I don't know is if the dial is AN original - meaning could a customer get a "seconds at 3" dial like that from Hamilton by picking out a hunter movement but putting it in an open faced case? Did Hamilton provide seconds at three dials? I don't know. I do know they had seconds at 9 dials tough - which is what you would get when you put an open faced movement in a hunter case. They did this with the 986 movement and early wrist watches.